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by Ilan Flammer

Yaarit Makovski was born in 1948 in Lodz, the center of the Polish textile industry, where her father owned a weaving workshop. In the course of her travels, Yaarit always kept with her an ornate wooden piece taken from the loom that had belonged to her father. Of these early years in Poland there lingered the memory of the odor given off by the rope that held the swing hanging in her family’s garden.

In 1950 the family, or at least what remained of it after the Shoah- Yaarit, her parents, and her maternal grandfather- emigrated to Israel. Sylvia became Yaarit when a scholarly friend of her parents translated her name literally from its Latin origin into Yaarit, “the little forest”- a newly coined name in a land that was new.

Yaarit could not remember a time when she did not draw. At the age of ten she attended her first summer art camp. Just before turning eighteen, once she had obtained her baccalaureate, she left for London to study at a school of visual arts.

At the age of twenty she returned to Israel and was accepted at the Betzalel School of Art, the Israeli fine arts academy. Two years later she was in Paris, where she took classes at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts. She worked in the studio of Jacques Lagrange and spent time with Cesar. In speaking of Paris she said, “Twice an immigrant, I remain on the fringes of this urban culture that I call my own. I love this vast city, and it is here, under its multicolored neon sky, that I dream my drawings and my paintings.”

During her first ten years in Paris she devoted herself primarily to the art of engraving, first at the Beaux-Arts and then in her own studio. At the same time she made small- format drawings, combining India ink, colored pencils, and pastels. In 1983, just after the death of her father, she abruptly stopped engraving because, as she explained, “the acid eats away at my fingers and burns my eyes.” Instead she began producing large oil pastel drawings, before turning to acrylic on canvas. She had her first individual exhibition in Paris in 1975, followed by others in Stockholm, Amsterdam, Tel-Aviv, and Atlanta. In 1984 she was awarded the Jeanne Gatineau Grand Prix de Peinture.

Yaarit Makovski died in a car accident on June 18, 1997, on the second day of the filming of a documentary she was making for France 3- a long-standing dream that she was finally realizing.


On the subject of the cinema she once wrote: “At times films allow me to satisfy a childhood wish to be in a place where my presence does not destroy the solitude, but lets me see my absence with my own eyes. It seems to me that I almost fulfill this desire when I fly over a rocky islet surrounded by the blue of the sea. I can have a similar illusion during a film- I don’t belong to this scene that is unfolding on the screen. It remains empty even as my eyes are exploring it.” Speaking of her work in another text she says, “I can’t help wanting to show my art and have others drink it in with their eyes, to see my drawings and my paintings brought together in a modest catalogue, in order to look at them as if they were a bouquet of flowers in a still life, on a table.”

The works of Yaarit Makovski are found in the collections of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, the Musee Images Nouvelles in Epinal, the Musee des Beaux-Arts in Saint Maur, the Musee de Pau, and the Gallerie Jacqueline Moussion.


In addition, she illustrated a documentary film on St. Jacques de Compostelle for the television station Arte, and did the credit titles for a film on Isaac B. Singer. Shortly after her death her works were shown in an exhibition entitled “Arcos de Lapa” in Rio de Janeiro, where her tragic faces were projected onto an aqueduct in the center of the city.

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